Bioscience

ASU’s Biodesign Institute cuts H.S. program

February 14, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

Biodesign Institute cuts high school program

Dianna M. Náñez

Feb. 14, 2009

Arizona Republic

An Arizona State University science education program that last year trained 58 high school teachers and students from 24 Arizona schools in 14 districts is the latest victim of the state’s economy.

The Biodesign Institute hosted the six-week bioscience high school internship last summer. Student/teacher teams from Tempe, Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Tolleson, Buckeye and other Valley schools joined ASU bioscience researchers tackling cures for infectious diseases and cancer, decontamination of groundwater and other studies. A grant had allowed the program to expand last summer to include teachers. Before January, when sobering sales-tax collections were realized, the institute had hoped to expand the internship to include more opportunities for Valley students.

But the economic reality forced the institute to make staff cuts. “Among those . . . positions being cut . . . were the outreach program staff to run the (internship) program,” said Kimberly Ovitt, a spokeswoman for the high-profile institute that focuses on health and biology research.

In its third year,the 2008 internship program received grant funding in addition to a portion of a voter-approved sales tax, known as the Technology and Research Initiative Fund, or TRIF. In 2000, voters approved a 0.6-cent increase in the state sales tax to support science research at Arizona’s three public universities. With sales taxes dwindling as people held back on spending, available TRIF money decreased and the recent legislative cuts to the state’s higher education funds left the institute with few financial alternatives, Ovitt said.

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